Why is Technology Development Constrained by time ?

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Whenever I hear that, the technology is not there yet or that scientists predict we may have the technology by x year, I wonder why is it so ? We have acess to the same materials on earth as before so how do we constantly find new ways to improve our tech and why does it happen in small doses over long periods of time ? Why can’t we develop technology now, that would otherwise take us 200 years or some ?

In: Technology

Because we don’t know how to do the stuff we want to do, and it takes a long time to figure it out. It’s kind of like f*cking around with ingredients until you bake something new, but much more complicated.

Consider the Duke Nukem Forever of power, a fusion reactor. The end goal is to achieve and sustain fusion and be able to generate electricity with it.

To get fusion, we need to understand fusion and how to induce it as well as sustain it and have it be powerful enough to be a meaningful source of power, which we have not yet accomplished that I’m aware of. Tests are done and different things tried from using materials or the way they’re shaped to the size of things etc etc etc. Testing testing testing.

But to even think of fusion we need to first understand nuclear reactions to begin with so we had to get down with fission. Before that we had to even know that such a thing was possible so we had to discover radiation and the atom and all that. We also had to discover that we can generate electricity to begin with, discover useful harnessing of steam…. Real life is pretty much one big videogame tech tree with all sorts of interconnected dependencies.

Plus we aren’t stuck with the same materials and that’s it. We find new ways to harness those materials like going from nitrogen to liquid nitrogen to offer enhanced cooling. Or steel, the steel we have now is *nothing* like the steel of the 19th century, we have many grades and alloys with different properties so we are inventing new materials now and again. Or plastic. It’s very reductive to just say “plastic.” What kind of plastic? Over the yeard we’ve gone from bakelite to having ABS and PVC and PP and PE and even *Teflon* (PTFE) which certainly offers some handy and unique characteristics.

From Wikipedia, ‘Moore’s law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years.’

Basically, we understand the rate at which technology generally increases in complexity, but not specifically what needs done. First we figure out how to do a thing, and then we have to figure out how to do it better, more efficiently, make it smaller, make it useful, etc etc.

A project designing laser cutting equipment might be at the point where they know what the next step is, but the lenses they need aren’t currently possible to build. So they look at the rate at which lense manufacturing tech has been improving and can make a projection about how far out until they’ll be able to take that next big step. In the meantime, they keep picking at what they’ve got, doing tests, learning stuff, providing data to other projects for all kinds of things. What you learn about heat dispersion from lasers might be what a project trying to automate circuit building needs to take their next step, and on and on. Everything we build and design comes hand in hand with everything else.

And the rate at which we’re going, there’s nobody alive who knows what the world will look like in thirty years. The figures of our past could not have imagined what we would become.

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Because these things happen in sequence.. for example invention of bullock cart wasn’t possible before wheel invention ..